Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday appeared before the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha to record oral evidence over the cash-for-query charge levelled against her by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai. In the hearing, a JDU member reminded the Trinamool leader that she was appearing before the panel as a witness, not as a Member of Parliament, sources said. Moitra reportedly told the panel she had not violated any parliamentary rules while sharing her Parliament login credentials with businessman Darshan Hiranandani.
Moitra turned up at Parliament at 11 am. After the panel convened, it discussed the documents it had received and the IT ministry's report for over two hours, sources said.
The MPs also pointed out that even if someone else tries to log in, the OTP approval prompt comes to the concerned MP's phone, which means no questions can be asked in Parliament without her approval.
Moitra, in her initial statement, said she was not guilty of violating any parliamentary rules.
Sources said she provided details of her friendship with lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai and claimed he had "personal reasons" to lodge a complaint.
She was reportedly aggressive in her deposition. A JDU MP, however, reminded her that she had appeared before the panel as a witness, not an MP.
The opposition, meanwhile, said there was no question of a breach of national security.
The committee, led by BJP MP Vinod Sonkar, also comprises MPs V Vaithilingam, Danish Ali, Sunita Duggal, Aparajita Sarangi, Parneet Kaur, Swami Sumedhanand and Rajdeep Roy.
Later, Opposition MPs staged a walkout
, alleging unethical line of questioning.
In her letter to the panel, Moitra had alleged that Jai Anant Dehadrai had provided no documentary evidence to back his allegations in either his written complaint and neither could he provide any evidence in his oral hearing. She demanded to cross-examine the lawyer. Earlier, she had demanded cross-examining Hiranandani as well, who said Moitra had accepted gifts in return for allowing him to ask questions directly via the Lok Sabha website.
In an interview, Moitra said Hiranandani was a friend and she had given him her login credentials to have someone in his office type out her questions for the Lok Sabha.
"Someone in Darshan Hiranandani's office typed the question which I gave on the Parliament website. After putting the question, they would call me to inform me and I would read all the questions in one go as I am always busy in my constituency. After putting the question, an OTP (one-time password) comes on my mobile phone. I would give that OTP and only then is the question submitted. So, the idea that Darshan would log in to my ID and put in questions of his own is ludicrous," she had told India Today.
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